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Chamber
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
CHAMBER REVIEW

Monica Huggett, Tanya Tomkins, Eric Zivian March 31 in Schroeder Hall

VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018

At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall.

The concert was the second in a series, and titled “The Little Orchestra.” As in past performances, a piano from the abbreviated period of the programmed music (1788-1802) was used, and the bowed instruments used gut rather than steel strings. This is standard fare for the VOM musicians, at their summer Sonoma Festival and at sporadic winter and spring season concerts in Northern California.

Often the lack of a modern concert grand and reduced string thematic projection are a sonic concern, but this afternoon I found the ensemble was balanced and the Schroeder acoustics warm and complimentary to the audience of 125.

Prior to the opening Mozart’s C Major Trio received Ms. Huggett’s remarks from the stage depicted the era of the afternoon’s works, and were concise and at turns humorous. So different from the fluff of many preconcert speeches. The K. 548 Trio received a lovely performance, though often the cello part was subsidiary and an occasional “extra voice” was given to Mr. Zivian’s piano line. Ms. Huggett doesn’t possess a commanding violin tone, and all day her intonation, especially at initial attacks, wandered off pitch. That said, her style and approach to Mozart and the Haydn G Major “Gypsy” trio that followed I found beguiling and irresistible.

The Haydn, from 1795, was more of the same lyrical simplicity, fast in the Hungarian Rondo finale. It’s that kind of work, and the brisk tempo with felicitous dynamic control from all three performers brought the first half to a close.

Ms. Huggett again addressed the audience prior to her and Mr. Zivian’s performance of Beethoven’s A Minor, Sonata, Op. 23, in three movements. Playing as throughout the concert from score, the violinist gave a warm and sometimes restrained reading, holding the bow (as did Ms. Tomkins) well up from the frog. She had inventive phrasing and in the andante scherzoso caught the composer’s humor during the quasi-fugal parts. Mr. Zivian provided excellent support, and never covered the violin, though his instrument has limited tonal sustain from the use of the knee-actuated damper pedal. The finale, similar in drama and ending to Beethoven’s “Tempest” Piano Sonata in D minor, explored distant keys and the performance was a highlight of the concert.

Hummel’s music is a stranger to the North Coast, but recently the Tilden Trio played a fine E Flat Major, Op. 93, at Dominican University in San Rafael, and the VOM Trio closed the concert with F Major Trio, Op. 22. The cello is used in novel ways in the piece. Here they used more rubato than in the Haydn and Mozart, and the theme and variations in the andante were elegantly performed, with a unison ending for three instruments. Mr. Zivian’s commanded fast scales here and in the more forceful final movement, played off the “Czardas” and gypsy rhythm inflections from Ms. Huggett. Well, the composer, though certainly cosmopolitan, was Hungarian.

Audience applause was robust, no encore ensued, and as at seemingly each VOM concert a gratis reception was provided in the Hall’s lobby with provocative conversations with the musicians.